BANGLORE: England lost 10 for 83 in the last innings in the second Test in Visakhapatnam. They lost 5 for 70 in the first innings in the third Test in Mohali. They lost 7 for 54 in their second innings in the fourth Test in Mumbai. The visitors then suffered a more cataclysmic fall in their second innings in the fifth Test in Chennai, losing 10 for 104 after piling on 477 in their first dig.
The limited-overs players then roused the side from its gloom after Christmas, pushing India in 50-over cricket and proceeded to go 1-0 up in the subsequent T20 series. England were then at the receiving end of two incorrect umpiring decisions and narrowly lost the second T20. In the series decider in Bangalore, they unravelled dramatically against legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal and left to head home empty-handed.
England experienced a fair share of collapses on this gruelling tour, but losing 8 for 8 on Wednesday night was as chaotic as it could get. Their breezy start to the chase – they were 119 for 2 in the 14th over in pursuit of 203 – starkly contrasted with what was to follow. The two set batsmen – Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan – were dismissed by Chahal in successive balls and England eventually suffered the second-worst eight-wicket collapse in international cricket to be rolled over for 127 with 21 balls to spare in their innings.
England captain Eoin Morgan cut a sorry figure at the post-match press conference, but did not mince any words about his team’s batting performance.
“It does hurt. Very disappointing,” Morgan said. “Maybe 60% of the game we were competitive and right in amongst it but fell away terribly in the end. Committed a cardinal sin of losing two in-players in one over and allowed India to build a little bit of pressure and we weren’t up to it at all.”
So what really went wrong in the middle?
“I can’t put a finger on it. We haven’t produced a batting performance as bad as that in two or two-and-a-half years,” Morgan said. “We pride ourselves on our batting, it has been a strong suit for a long time but this series our bowlers have outperformed our batsmen I think.”
Morgan, who had played for Royal Challengers Bangalore for a season in the IPL in 2010, believed that England were on track to exploit the flat surface and the short boundaries at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium at the halfway mark of the chase. Root bedded himself in, and Morgan himself hinted at hitting full tilt with three sixes from Suresh Raina’s part-time offbreaks in three balls during the 12th over.
“I thought we were going quite well,” Morgan said. “A majority of the runs at this ground are always scored in the last 10 overs. Bangalore have done it extremely well for a long period of time and India did well today. So, I think we needed 110 [sic 117] off the last 10 maybe with eight wickets in the shed.”
Morgan said that England could have chased the target down had he or Root kicked on with contributions from the lower-middle order.
“If a better performance from either me or Joe – a 70 or 80 from me or him and if the two of us seeing off – and a couple of guys batting around us could have made a huge difference,” Morgan said.
England’s sharp nosedive began with Morgan galloping down the track, fetching a slog-sweep from outside off and skying a wrong’un to deep midwicket. He backed his intent but blamed the execution for the dismissal.
“It wasn’t necessarily a big shot,” Morgan said. “It wasn’t executed that well, I didn’t mean to hit it in the air. The ball – it was a googly – held up a little bit. I wanted to hit down the ground, but hit it squarer.”
Morgan also conceded that losing a close ODI series “hurt” more than losing the T20 series, but was confident of recovering from the setbacks.
“We had performances in the one-day series that were potentially worthy of winning,” he said. “In this series probably the last game [in Nagpur] hurt us more. The game got away from us, we should have won. Today we underperformed and we weren’t good enough.
“I don’t think [there will be a lingering feeling]. If there was a consistent run of performances like that it would hurt to fail again. But like I said, our batting has been outstanding for a long time and tonight it wasn’t anywhere near as it should be.”